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The scariest thing about American playwright and screenwriter John Pielmeier’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel (the source of the famous 1973 film) is the loud bang and sudden blackout which starts the show - and the most atmospheric is the all-too-brief snippet of Mike Oldfield’s spine-tingling Tubular Bells music as the curtain comes down some 100 minutes later.

What happens in between is, in director Sean Mathias’s production, a moderately decent stab at recreating on stage the horror of the movie - we get the swiveling head (revolving beneath a disheveled wig), the projectile vomiting and some creaky levitation. In an era of sophisticated technology, though, projected wallpaper of swarming rats and sending a drawer flying are unlikely to freak out a modern audience.

Still, Tristram Wymark adds a short-lived note of jollity as a gay film director (and gets urinated on for his pains) whilst Peter Bowles brings gravitas to the role of the eponymous cleric called in by Adam Garcia’s fragile Father Damien Karras. Jenny Seagrove’s actress Chris is fiercely determined to find a way of ridding her daughter of the devil which has possessed her,  and Clare Louise Connolly’s Regan morphs, in rapid stages, from a normal 12 year old,  scared of the noises in an unfamiliar rented house, to a foul-mouthed, writhing demon with a deep voice (courtesy of an unseen Ian McKellen – Mathias’s former partner)  whose messing with a Ouija board leads her to do some sickening things with a crucifix which the church never intended. 

Phoenix Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0JP

Tube: Leicester Square

Booking until 10th March 2018  

Tickets £15.00 - £75.00

atgtickets.com/phoenix


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